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Congress returns to D.C. with Biden's future much in doubt

Congress returns this week from its Fourth of July break. The 535 members of the House and Senate return to a political landscape that is dramatically different after the first Presidential debate. Biden's disastrous debate performance on June 27 appeared to confirm the worst fears of Americans about the 81-year-old president's ability to serve.

Noone thought Biden won the debate. The White House has spent the last ten days trying to put out political fires and calm Democratic voters and donors, who were already spooked by polling showing Biden losing to former President Donald J. Trump (R).

"I don't walk as easy as I used to. I don't speak as smoothly as I used to, I don't debate as well as I used to," President Biden told attendees of a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina the day after the debate. "But I know what I do know ... I know how to do this job."

The Biden campaign has hammered the theme that the debate, "Was one bad night."

While Biden said that when you get knocked down you get back up, his campaign has been heavily criticized for its lack of direction in the last 10 days and Biden's lack of an energetic defense.

Biden spent the Sunday (June 30) after the debate at Camp David with his family instead of getting out there and addressing the issues.

Clinton era Democratic political consultant James Carville demanded that Biden withdraw and advised Democratic megadonors to cut off Democratic candidates who won't demand that Biden withdraw.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Tuesday, "I think it's a legitimate question to say, 'Is this an episode or is this a condition?'"

Five Democratic House members have since come forward publicly and demanded that Biden withdraw from the presidential race.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas) was the first House Democrat to call for Biden to withdraw. He was joined by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Arizona), Rep. Seth Moulton (Massachusetts), Rep. Mike Quigley (Illinois) and Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota).

U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) has publicly called on Biden to withdraw from the race and is asking fellow Democratic Senators to join him in urging the President to withdraw from the race.

Biden responded by saying that "only God Almighty" could get him to withdraw from the race.

The Washington Post is reporting that four senior House Democrats, in a private leadership call, said that Biden should step aside and let the Democratic party select a new presidential candidate.

The President has had more gaffes in the days following his gaffe filled debate performance. At one point he meant to say that he was the first President to have a Black woman vice President (Kamala Harris); but instead said he was, "The first Black woman to serve with a Black president." In another gaffe he meant to say that he was the first Catholic to win statewide in Delaware, but instead said, "I'm the first president to get elected statewide in the state of Delaware."

The President has only spoken for a total of 32 minutes to reporters since the debate, most notably at a Waffle House in Atlanta after the debate.

On Friday he gave a 22 minute interview to ABC's George Stephanopoulos. In that debate he could not remember whether or not he had watched the debate a week earlier and refused to have a cognitive test.

Reps. Jerry Nadler (New York), Joseph Morelle (New York), Mark Takano (California) and Adam Smith (Washington) reportedly said that they wanted the President to withdraw his re-election bid.

In a meeting with Democratic governors, Biden was told by the Governors of New Mexico and New Jersey that their normally reliable Democratic states are appearing as though they could be competitive this fall.

Former Obama political advisor David Axelrod said that Biden, "Is not winning this race. If you just look at the data and talk to people around the country, political people around the country, it’s more likely that he’ll lose by a landslide than win narrowly.”

New polling came out this week showing Trump with a lead in New Hampshire. Trump held a rally the day after the debate in Virginia – another state that Biden won in 2020; but now has polling showing that it could be winnable for Republicans. Trump's team has begun targeting Minnesota – a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972 – where polling shows the race as being neck and neck.

Vice President Kamala Harris would be the favorite to win the Democratic nomination if Biden withdraws, but only he can make that decision.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can: I'm the sitting President of the United States," Biden said on his X account. "I'm the nominee of the Democratic party. I'm staying in the race."

The President still has powerful defenders.

"President Biden can clearly defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in the history of this country," U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) told CBS News's Robert Costa on Sunday. "What we're talking about now is not a Grammy Award contest for best singer. Biden is old, he's not as articulate as he once was. I wish he could jump up the steps on Air Force One. He can't. What we have got to focus on is policy. Whose policies have and will benefit the vast majority of the people in this country? Who wants the guts to take on corporate America? Who is talking about expanding Medicare so we cover dental, hearing and vision? Who's talking about raising the cap on the taxes that people pay into Social Security so we can raise social security benefits and extend the life of Social Security for 75 years? Who's talking about a permanent child tax credit to cut childhood poverty in America by 50%? Those are the issues he's talked about. He's got to bring them up in the floor. He's got to promise the American people that if they give him a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, reelect him, he's gonna do that in the first 100 days. That's what I think the American people want."

Biden will be hosting the NATO summit in Washington this week.

Stephanopoulos asked Biden, "If you stay in and Trump is elected and everything you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?"

"I'll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that's what this is about," said Biden.

This report referenced original reporting by the Washington Post.

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